Opinions mixed on online translation tools

How satisified are you with the accuracy of the translations? graph of japanese statisticsAccording to a survey from goo Research and reported on by japan.internet.com into online dictionaries, the satisfied, dissatisfied and on the fence online translation tool users each make up significant groups.

Demographics

Between the 16th and 19th of April 2012 1,099 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 52.9% of the sample were male, 16.7% in their teens, 18.5% in their twenties, 21.1% in their thirties, 16.3% in their forties, 15.5% in their fifties, and 11.9% aged sixty or older.

I recently came across a case where the Japanese user appears to have been satisfied, but the native English speaker on the other end was quite dissatsified with the output. Scroll down a page or two, and you’ll see comments like:

Oh, sorry, I should give up for now. Ha ha. Without looking at the Japanese, I can’t really figure out exactly what is being said! Maybe Kaneishi will have things ready soon. I’m happy to use my Kanji reader to do the short things like this. No problem, as long as I have the Japanese script to copy onto the Kanji reader website.

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Google rules for translation in Japan

How often do you use online translation on foreign web pages? graph of japanese statisticsThis recent survey from goo Research, reported on by japan.internet.com, into online automatic translation services found Google on top in both usage and satisfaction, a quite amazing change from just a year ago when Google was nowhere to be seen.

Demographics

Between the 8th and 12th of June 2011 1,082 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 53.0% of the sample were male, 16.5% in their teens, 18.0% in their twenties, 21.3% in their thirties, 16.4% in their forties, 15.8% in their fifties, and 12.1% aged sixty or older.

I must agree that Google does produce the best results, but Japanese to English is always a tricky task due in no small part to subjects or objects often being dropped from sentences, the present and future tenses being identical, singular versus plural often not distinguished, etc, etc. As Google Translate says japan.internet.com (or is that comb the Internet?) summed up:

Not rely on automated translation is fairly but not all, at least you go up enough to understand the accuracy of the translation summary, Soredake, would do less well in the language barrier.
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Yahoo! Translate Japan’s favourite translation service

How do you most often use translation web sites? graph of japanese statisticsThis recent look by Media Interactive (iResearch), reported on by japan.internet.com, into translation web sites found, surprisingly to me, that Google Translate was nowhere to be seen.

Demographics

Over the 7th and 8th of June 2010 1,000 internet users who had used translation web sites completed a survey. 57.1% of the sample were male, 1.1% were in their teens, 18.4% in their twenties, 29.6% in their thirties, 28.5% in their forties, 14.8% in their fifties, and 7.6% in their sixties.

Just to test out the sites, in Q1 I’ve fed in the first sentence the article, “ポータルサイトを中心に各社が翻訳サービスを提供しているが、ユーザーの利用状況はどうだろうか。”, which I would manually translate as “Focused around portal sites, various companies offer translation services, but how do users use them?” For the Other category, I’ll use Google Translate, since I mentioned its omission above. Also note that Yahoo! use Babelfish on their English site, which gives this translation “Focusing on the portal sight each company offers translation service, but will utilization circumstance of the user how probably be?”, which is probably the worst of the lot, especially as it doesn’t seem to be aware of the common phrase “portal site”!
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Online translation rated rather poorly in Japan

How do you mainly use language translation sites? graph of japanese statisticsI rarely use online sentence translators for Japanese as they are usually pretty much useless, although of course I couldn’t live without Jim Breen’s WWWJDIC for single word lookups. This recent survey from JR Tokai Express Research Inc and reported on by japan.internet.com into translation sites discovers the Japanese don’t rate them much too.

Demographics

On the 29th of June 2008 330 members of the JR Tokai Express Research online monitor panel employed in private industry successfully completed an internet-based closed questionnaire. 71.5% of the sample were male, 8.2% in their twenties, 42.7% in their thirties, 30.3% in their forties, 15.5% in their fifties, and 3.3% in their sixties.

Contrary to the occassional comment I get, I don’t use the output from online, or even offline, translation engines as a basis for my articles. Blame any bad grammar on not a machine or other forms of cheating, but on me alone!

I must say I enjoyed translating this one, so I hope you find the contents useful!
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